- The latest tranche of no-deal Brexit papers has been released by the UK government.
- They reveal that flights between Europe and the UK could be grounded.
- Many British lorries would be barred from entering Europe.
- Food producers would have to make costly changes to all labels.
- “We face chaos at the ports, serious disruption to food supplies, increasing business costs, rising consumer prices and ever more administrative burdens on the food and drink industry,” said an industry chief.
LONDON – The UK government on Monday published its latest tranche of notices on how a no-deal Brexit would affect British households and businesses.
They cover everything from flights to Europe to lorry licences and add to previous releases which suggest a no-deal Brexit could also hit pensions, credit card payments and food imports.
Industry figures on Monday warned that the government’s own plans detail “chaos” that would ensue if Britain failed to secure a deal and crashed out of the EU in March next year.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Flights could be grounded
Flights between the UK and EU are governed by a wide range of EU legislation which allows UK-registered airlines to operate in the EU and vice versa.
The government’s latest advice on flights admits that would end if there was no Brexit deal, saying that “UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission.” That means flights could be grounded in Europe and the UK.
How would the government attempt to solve such a huge problem? The government says the “UK would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to continue to operate,” and says: “We would expect EU countries to reciprocate in turn.”
That means it would unilaterally grant European airlines the right to continue flying to and from the UK, and hope the EU would return the favour. But the EU has given no such indication it would do that. Failing that, the UK government says it would try to negotiate a temporary deal with the EU to keep flights in the air, or bilateral deals with every European country.
If such permissions are not granted, the government says “there could be disruption to some flights.”
Lorries could be barred from entering Europe
In short, the government’s no-deal advice on haulage concedes that many British lorries attempting to move goods to Europe could be unable to continue operating without a deal.
Why? Currently, an operator licence for a lorry issued by the UK is effectively valid across the European Union on account of Britain’s single market membership. That means a British trucker with a valid licence can drive goods from Dover to Calais and all the way across Europe. The number of available licenses is unlimited.
A no-deal Brexit would see Britain revert to an old set of international arrangements which handed Britain just 103 permits to cover the 300,000 journeys made by British trucks make to Europe every year.
The government says in its latest memo on road haulage that it may not have enough time to renegotiate lorry permits under a no-deal scenario, and says that demand for permits will “significantly exceed supply.”
The road haulage industry says this scenario would spell chaos for the industry.
The government also suggests that hauliers should consider alternative modes of transport to move goods between the UK and the EU in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was “astounded” by that proposal.
“The RHA is astounded by the suggestion that hauliers should consider alternative modes of transport to move goods between the UK and the EU in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” said the group in a release.
“Goods are moved by road freight are because of speed and efficiency,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said. “The UK relies on its incredibly efficient supply chain for consumers and businesses to get the things they need.”
“This would very quickly put the manufacturing sector under severe pressure and the hauliers they rely on out of business.”
‘Lost forever’: Food manufacturers would have to change labelling on all food products
Currently, all food labels describe food produced in the UK as originating in the EU. That would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK under a no deal Brexit, the government said. That means food manufacturers would have to change the labelling on all of their food products from March next year.
There’s more. For pre-packed products sold in the UK, the label would have to describe the UK address of a “responsible food business operator.” Many products which provide addresses elsewhere in the EU – French cheese or Spanish ham, for example, would need to register an address in the UK in order to carry on selling their products to Brits. They would then have to update their labels accordingly.
Equally, any British company selling products elsewhere in the EU would have to register an EU address. Industry figures slammed the news, warning EU markets could be “lost forever” to British producers.
“Today’s technical notices lay bare the grisly prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit,” said Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food & Drink Federation.
“We face chaos at the ports, serious disruption to food supplies, increasing business costs, rising consumer prices and ever more administrative burdens on the food and drink industry,” he said.
“UK food and drink manufacturers will need to make immediate and costly changes to product labelling to remove references to the EU in origin labelling.
“The limited timeframe for such changes and the accompanying administrative burdens further threaten the success of UK export sales to the EU, our largest export market,” said Wright.
“If EU consumers are unable to access UK food and drink, the chances are they will switch to other sources of supply and those export markets will be lost forever.
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